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“Bath Beneath” The Secret Plan to save the World’s Eighteenth-Century Literature Specialists in the event of Nuclear War.

August 11, 2017

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Now it can be told.  In 1950, with the Korean War ranging, and the cold war forever threatening to turn hot, Britain and the USA collaborated on a secret plan to save the world’s eighteenth-century literature specialists in the event of a full scale nuclear war.

Clement Attlee and Harry Truman met secretly that summer in Reyjkavik to discuss intelligence that supported the growing view that Soviet nuclear weapons testing had commenced the previous year and that humanity henceforth faced the threat of near complete  annihilation in the event of the superpowers ever returning to conflict. Naturally,  this grim point of recognition immediately became a practical discussion regarding ways and means whereby scholars of Alexander Pope and Daniel Defoe could be preserved for future generations.

In October 1951, the incoming Conservative administration was informed that excavations had already taken place deep beneath the city of Bath, a location selected by Truman and Attlee on the basis that many eighteenth-centuryists like to hang out in Bath much of the time anyway.  Churchill immediately approved the development and extension of the scheme, and the bunker was substantially complete by the mid 1950s.

Throughout the Cold War, the tunnels were extended and facilities were expanded at the Bath shelter, codenamed “Bath Beneath”.   The project was mothballed following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s, but was never officially decommissioned.  UK Ministry of Defence sources confirm that this small underground city could be re-activated in a matter of hours should the geo-political situation warrant it.

The story of “Bath Beneath”  provides not only a history lesson in late twentieth century political history, but also an invaluable guide to changing currents in literary theory and canon formation.   In the early 1960s, for example, there was an entire wing devoted to Tobias Smollett specialists, whereas only two small bunkbeds were allocated to Frances Burney scholars, a situation which has since been reversed.  Segregationism was still an ugly feature of the original design, with Whigs and Tories confined to opposite sides of the cave network.  In the late 1970s, further extension of the network took place, to ensure that deconstructionists could be isolated from new historicists on a day to day basis.

Initially, facilities only permitted the accommodation of some three thousand eighteenth centuryists, with printing facilities sufficient to accommodate just one bi-annual peer reviewed journal.  Enough instant coffee and powdered milk was preserved to permit two coffee breaks a day for a four day conference held three times a year for the next two hundred years, or until surface radiation levels might have subsided.

However, by the 1980s, the expansion of the universities internationally resulted in residential quarters capable of supporting some ten-thousand Augustan and Enlightenment era researchers in some degree of comfort.  The conference facilities were enlarged so as to enable the staging of at least one conference a month and there were plans for “Bath Beneath” to develop its own university press, publishing at least twenty full-length monographs on eighteenth-century topics each year, as well as five separate quarterly peer reviewed journals.  Under these conditions, it was anticipated that eighteenth-centuryists might have been able to work productively without daylight or outside human contact for many decades.  They, or their descendants, would have been able to emerge blinking into the daylight of a un-irradiated twenty-first century in the knowledge that they could satisfy any Research Excellence Framework (REF) that the New World Order saw fit to impose on them.

The cost of this facility was of course “top secret” and was believed to be hidden somewhere in the “sundry” sections of participant nations’ defence budgets.  Although the cost of “Bath Beneath” runs into many billions of dollars, all post WWII governments have acknowledged its absolute necessity, and there are no plans for its funding to be discontinued in the near future.

The designers of this cave network were compelled to imagine more disturbing scenarios.  Accordingly, a small arsenal of period weapons (smooth-bore muskets etc) was provided for in the event of incursions by the Soviets or by Restoration Literature specialists seeking to invade the facility.

There is much information regarding this and related schemes that remains classified.  Relevant civil protection agencies have neither confirmed or denied the existence of an entirely separate bunker for Romantic literature specialists, located underneath Mont Blanc.

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